Monday, Monday, vacation days are such great days!!!!! :D I am loving my vacation and if someone shows me how to upload before the end of the week, I'll have a photo of some Japanese food C.I. fixed for me. C.I.'s made sure I had sushi every day but yesterday I had sushi and other Japanese food. I don't know what but I know it was good. :D C.I. served it in what I'm guessing is the authentic 'plates' (it was a square box). I took a picture. Now normally that means that I take the disc to a place to have it developed. It's not a disc, it's that little memory card. Couldn't remember "memory card". :D Then I end up with either photos or photos on a disc and from there I'm good. But here they skip that process and have a thing that they plug their memory cards into. I don't know how to use it so I'll have to wait on that for someone to show me but maybe tomorrow night or by the end of the week I'll be able to show you how great that was. Mmmmm good. :D It's official, I could live on Japanese food forever.
Now it is vacation but I did listen to Law and Disorder. Naomi Wolf was on the first part. Feminist for Barack -- a misnomer like "stripper for Jesus" -- Naomi went to Guantanamo and, goodness me, the Christ-child had not changed it. Poor Naomi. Of course she didn't call Barry out. She never can. She whored it and now wants to play like she's little Ms. Bravery. Whore it somewhere else Naomi. Your tired ass is a joke.
The second segment was on Jonathan Hafetz. He is the attorney who is one of the lawyers for Mohammed Jawad who's been imprsioned since the age of 12. I've highlighted his case here before but if you're late to the party (you better have brought some sushi!!!) the basics are he was tortured into signing a confession in a language he couldn't read. At the age of 12. He was then turned over to US forces and tortured some more. Haftetz addressed that and also how this was supposed to be the administration -- Barack Obama's administration's -- strongest case so what did that say about the rest of the cases?
Jawad was labeled an enemy combatant and among his charges were war crimes for allegedly throwing a grenade at US forces. The judge said that it was not a war crime for an Afghani to throw a grenade at any foreign forces in their country. She's right because it's their country. They can welcome the US, they can attack. That's what war is. But there's no proof that Jawad threw it.
But the administration dropped the enemy combatant status when they were clearly losing. But Jawad is still not out of prison. Why? Jonathan Hafetz explained that the law Congress passed this year requires that before anyone's released from Guantanamo, etc., there has to be a screening. Hafetz offered what he dubbed "charitable explanation"s for Barry O's cowardice and continuation of Bully Boy Bush's Crimes. Michael Smith rightly was less charitable.
Heidi Boghosian was on at the start and she and Michael Ratner might have discussed some recent developments. If they did, I missed it. I was laying out at C.I.'s pool and just relaxing (we'd played tennis before) and I was kind of out of it. And when I say "we," not Ava and C.I. They were speaking to groups about the illegal war. Kat's had photo shoots scheduled today and Ava and C.I. told Wally he needed to enjoy this week before we all left. So Sir Wallace and I got to hang out. :D That was cool. Most people were going sight seeing. It was really just Elaine and Flyboy (Rebecca's husband) who were home the whole time (tennis was me and Elaine against Wally and Flyboy -- we won but only because Elaine's amazing, even better than me, I must say).
Okay, let's talk Third. Along with Dallas, the following people worked on the edition:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.
Truest statement of the week -- Cindy Sheehan, of course. We all loved this statement by Cindy.
A note to our readers -- Jim breaks down the edition.
Editorial: It can start all over again -- This is a good editorial but not what all was planned. And this was something that Jim asked C.I. to hold, actually to pull stuff out of a snapshot so the topic could be addressed at Third. It could have been more. "It could have been more, it could have been more," Joni Mitchell sings that in "The Arrangement" from Ladies of the Canyon.
TV: How a dud became watchable -- This is Ava and C.I. and I felt so sorry for them because it was near the end of the writing edition and they were planning on covering something else (Gary Unmarried with some public affairs programs) when it became obvious we weren't going to have to do our American Dad roundtable. So American Dad got farmed out to them and they hadn't planned on that or anything. So I really enjoyed this but felt like it's a keeper for American Dad fans but for Ava and C.I. fans, not so much. But hold on.
The Joni Roundtable -- I was quoting Joni a second ago. We did the Joni roundtable on Joni Mitchell's albums. I really like this but it went on forever. Most of us cut stuff. C.I. didn't. What we cut it was little one and two sentence statements. We probably should have left them in but everyone was tired and the whole thing still needed to be typed. But this is a really good and interesting discussion of Joni Mitchell's albums so check it out.
The Flim Flam Man (Ava and C.I.) -- I was too tired to go to my room and ended up walking into the library which was where Ava and C.I. had set up when they were asked, at the last minute (we had just finished the editorial), if they could write a second piece. They were tired. There's a really comfy chair -- so comfy you could sleep in it, by a window that has this really great view and the sun was going to be coming up. Ava and C.I. offered to go elsewhere but I told them if anyone should, it should be me. So we all stayed. So I got to hear this. I even made a suggestion. Originally, they quoted from Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro. And they wrote this, please understand, with their heads on a table, they were both that tired. (They wrote in long hand.) So when they were finally done (which was probably ten or so minutes), Ava goes, "Problem." C.I. says, "What? Oh, did we? We did. We said Barack was" Joni Mitchell song (I'm forgetting it right now) "and that he was Laura Nyro's 'Flim Flam Man'." They debated how to fix it. This went on for about two minutes and I said, "Drop Joni. It's smart, it works and it will have everyone nodding their heads and saying, 'Yes, I would have said the same thing!' The Laura is something that only you two would quote." Which was true. And that's what they did. :D And I love this. I loved it when they were writing it. I love it when I read it. Remember I told you American Dad got shoved on them and that fans of the show would enjoy it but maybe not Ava and C.I. fans? Ava and C.I. fans can consider this their article.
News from Iraq -- Dona honestly thought we had no Iraq articles. This was suggested before the editorial and after we'd written Iraq pieces. This was mainly us shouting out things and Jim reminding that he and C.I. wanted a weekly toll of dead and wounded in Iraq.
Amy Goodman doesn't give a damn about Iraq -- See this is an Iraq feature and Dona had forgotten we'd written this. I like this a lot.
FSRN covers Camp Ashraf -- This was just a transcription to try to show off what Free Speech and Radio News has been doing and maybe build some interest in them.
Klibur Solidaridade Timor-Leste -- ETAN.
ETAN to Gather in Timor-Leste -- ETAN.
Nourish yourself -- Rebecca loves Barbra Streisand. So we had to note that. C.I. said, "Well note Cass Elliot too."
Highlights -- Wally, Cedric, Ruth, Stan, Kat, Marcia, Betty, Rebecca, Elaine and I wrote this and picked the highlights.
And that's what we ended up with.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, September 17, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, Human Rights Watch issues a report on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community, Barack Obama tosses out pretty words to the VFW that aren't so pretty if anyone pays attention, too bad for Barry's vacation because Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan is paying attention, the benchmarks are forgotten, a census is called off and more.
Today Celebrity in Cheif Barry O! spoke to the VFW and made comments such as this: "When communism cast its shadow across so much of the globe, you stood vigilant in a long Cold War -- from an airlift in Berlin to mountains of Korea to the jungles of Vietnam." If your mouth just dropped open at the stunning historical ignorance of that single sentence, grasp that Barry O is whomever he thinks audiences want. He never means one damn word. That's the most frightening thing about him. George W. Bush's Iraq 'plan' was 'we'll stand down as they stand up' and Barry revealed the same 'strategy'. He also noted, "But as we move forward, the Iraqi people must know that the United States will keep its commitments. And the American people must know that we will move forward with our strategy. We will begin removing our combat brigades from Iraq later this year. We will remove all our combat brigades by the end of next August. And we will remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. And for America, the Iraq War will end." Yeah, we'll see. Barry O didn't argue "Trust me!" with comments about how he's working to ensure that troops in Iraq get more: "and for all those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, including our National Guard and Reserve, more of the protective gear and armored vehicles that save lives." Uh, excuse me, he's been president for seven months. If US troops in Iraq (or Afghanistan, but this is the Iraq snapshot) need "more of the protective gear and armored vehicles that save lives," as commander in chief, he should have ensured that they received it. Don't tell us what you're going to do. You've been president for seven months, it's time you have accomplishments to point to and if you're saying US troops are at risk because they lack "protective gear and armored vehicles," and you haven't already taken care of this? He brags about how its in his (proposed) budget and how he's not hiding the costs of the wars. On the latter, he means that he's not doing supplementals. As Bette Davis tells Joan Crawford in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, "But you are, Blanche, you are." The night of June 16th, the US House voted on his War Supplemental (and passed it): 226 members (221 Democrats, 5 Republicans) voted for it, 202 members (32 Democrats, 170 Republicans) voted against it. June 18th the US Senate voted for it (91 voted for it, five -- Russ Feingold, Bernie Sanders, Jim DeMint, Mike Enzi and Tom Coburn -- voted against it.) Barack should remember that because June 24th he signed the $106 billion War Supplemental. So he's telling the American people in August that the US troops in Iraq do not have the equipment they need and in June he was signing a multi-billion dollar supplemental and not taking care of the troops in that?
Cindy Sheehan (Cindy's Soapbox) observed last week:
There has been no significant removal of troops from Iraq and there has been a very significant increase of troops to Af-Pak, with the unfortunate commensurate increase in casualties on all sides, yet there is very little movement in the "movement." McCain would be doing the exact same thing that Obama is doing in Iraq-Af-Pak: the EXACT same thing. There is no difference between what Obama is doing and what McCain would be doing, except Obama has a (D) behind his name. The profound difference to us here in the grassroots would be that if McCain were president, faux-gressives would still be up in arms about the wars and, even though our protests wouldn't change McCain's mind, at least we could retain our moral high-ground, that has been sold out to the Democrats for absolutely nothing in return.
Cindy's not sitting still. Barack vacations on Martha's Vineyard from Sunday through the 30th and Cindy will be there:
From her home in California, Ms. Sheehan released this statement:
"There are several things that we wish to accomplish with this protest on Martha's Vineyard. First of all, no good social or economic change will come about with the continuation or escalation of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We simply can't afford to continue this tragically expensive foreign policy.
Secondly, we as a movement need to continue calling for an immediate end to the occupations even when there is a Democrat in the Oval Office. There is still no Noble Cause no matter how we examine the policies.
Thirdly, the body bags aren't taking a vacation and as the US led violence surges in Afghanistan and Pakistan, so are the needless deaths on every side.
And, finally, if the right-wing can force the government to drop any kind of public option or government supported health care, then we need to exert the same kind of pressure to force a speedy end to the occupations."
Cindy Sheehan will arrive on the Vineyard on Tuesday, August 25th.
Late last night Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reported Human Rights Watch would be releasing a report today on the targeting of Iraq's LGBT community: "Although the scope of the problem remains unclear, hundreds of gay men may have been killed this year in predominantly Shiite Muslim areas, the report's authors said, basing their conclusion on interviews with gay Iraqi men, hospital officials and an unnamed United Nations official in Baghdad." The Austin-American Statesman (compiling various wire reports) noted, "The campaign has been largely blamed on Shiite extremists who target behavior deemed un-Islamic, beating and even killing women for not wearing veils and bombing liquor stores." B-b-but, the New York Times told us the Shi'ite militias are standing down! And that they're lovely! Why, they're not just lovely, they're de-lovely! Imagine the New York Times ever being wrong about Iraq -- it's one for Ripley's. This morning the BBC added, "The report says members of the Mehdi Army militia group is spearheading the campaign, but police are also accused even though homosexuality is legal. Witnesses say vigilante groups break into homes and pick people up in the street, interrogating them to extract the names of other potential victims, before murdering them." CNN notes, "Interviews with doctors indicate hundreds of men had been killed, but the exact number was unclear because of the stigma associated with homosexuality in Iraq, the New York-based watchdog group said in its report." BBC correspondent Natalia Antelava interviewed gay men in Baghdad who report that no attempts are made by security forces to stop the assaults against them.The Human Rights Watch report is entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq." For the 67-page report [PDF format warning] click here. The report opens with Hamid relating how his partner was murdered: It was late one night in early April, and they came to take my partner at his parents' home. Four armed men barged into the house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. All that, I heard about later from his family. He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.Since then, I've been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. I don't have friends other than those you see; for years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now -- I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself. In Iraq, murderers and thieves are respected more than gay people. Their measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us. His partner of ten years is murdered and he has to live in fear, hide his own grief and hide who he is. And this is the country the US 'liberated'. Human Rights Watch's report notes that most of the Iraqis interviewed self-label as "gay" but the murderers would "describe the victims and excuse the killings with a potpourri of words and justifications, identifying those they abominate in shifting ways -- suggesting how concerns about an Iraq where men are no longer masculine drive the death squads, as much as fears of sexual 'sin.' 'Puppies,' a vilifying slang term of apparently recent vintage, implies that the men are immature as well as inhuman. Both the media and sermons in mosques warn of a wave of effeminacy among Iraqi men, and execrate the 'third sex'.'' The report also notes that while "gay" may be a new term in Iraq, homosexuals and lesbians are not new to Iraq ("always existed in Iraqi society, as in all societies"). HRW also notes that the hatred towards "'feminized' men reveals only hatred of women." Tariq shares with HRW: At the end of March, I started to hear from friends that the Mahdi Army was killing gays. The newspapers also reported there was an increase in the "third sex" in Iraq, also known as "puppies" [jarawi]. Then on April 4, I found out that two of my gay friends, Mohammed and Mazen, had been killed. I think those were their names; within a gay group, gays rarely give out their real names. We were friends, we met in cafes or chatted on the Internet, andone day they just disappeared. A few days later, I met the brother of one of them and he told me they were killed. They were kidnapped on the street and then their bodies were found near a mosque, with signs of torture. One was 18, one was 19. A couple of days after that, on April 6 or 7, I was in my parents' house, and someone threw a letter at the door. I didn't see who. Inside the envelope was a bullet. It had brown blood on it, and the letter said, "What are you still here for? Are you ready to die?" I think those two were tortured into giving my name, because two days after I learned they were killed I got this threat. ... I spoke by phone to a friend of mine yesterday night: he is also gay but he's very masculine and no one knows about him. He said, "Get out if you can and save yourself. They are killing gays left and right." I said, "Who is doing it?" He said, "Everyone knows. Who do you think? The Mahdi Army." The report traces how militias originated from the security vacuum created by the US invasion. The Madhi 'Army' billed itself as the protector of society and "an agent of social cleansing." An unnamed journalist floats the idea that the Mahdi militia is now targeting LGBTs because "[g]etting rid of the Sunnis and the Americans is less important". Mashal was kidnapped by the Mahdi militia and he's quoted explaining:It was about 4 p.m. and four men came inside the shop. They lingered and when I tried to get them to leave, they pulled out guns. They had three cars -- one a black Daewoo -- and they put me in one and covered my eyes. It was the Mahdi Army -- they are the ones who operate in the area. The place they took me to wasn't far away: it was very close to a mosque or actually in the courtyard, because I could hear the call to prayer very clearly. When they hauled me out of the car they beat me until I fell unconscious. Late the next day, they came to me and said, "We know you are gay, we know you're farakhji" [a derogatory term used in Iraq for men who have sex with men]. They pulled out a list of names and started reading them: you know these perverts, you know X and Y and Z. They gave the first name and the neighborhood where he lived. I knew four who were still alive. One they had already killed. They had killed my friend Waleed in February, before I was kidnapped. He was walking down a big street between Hayy Ur and al Shaab [in northeast Baghdad near Sadr City] at dusk. I asked Waleed's brother about it later, and he told me, "Waleed was slaughtered in the street. Don't ask more." I am sure he was killed because he was gay. He was walking with a bunch of straight friends, and he was killed, not them: he was the one they targeted. He was the first name on the list they read me. There were many more names I didn't know. I admitted knowing those four, but I said it was only because they were customers in my shop. They interrogated me for three hours that night. They kept me blindfolded and gagged, and when they wanted me to speak, they took out the gag. They demanded I give them names of other gays. At night they got a broomstick, and they used it to rape me. After that, they negotiated a ransom. They asked my family for $50,000 USD.My brothers sold my shop, my car, everything I had to put together half that. When they let me go they said, "We have our sources, and we know exactly what you do. If you step outside your house, you are dead." I never left the house for more than a month, until I fled Baghdad. One of the people whose names they read to me ran away from Baghdad, with his parents. Two others I know are just hiding in their houses. A few don't answer their phones and I don't know what has happened to them. This is targeting of a population and it goes on while US service members are on the ground in Iraq but the US White House, State Dept and Embassy in Baghdad do nothing -- despite requests from US House Reps Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank, among others. And the problem includes Iraqi forces (and, I say, Nouri). The report explains: Iraqi police and security forces have done little to investigate or halt the killings. Authorities have announced no arrests or prosecutions; it is unlikely that any have occurred. While the government has made well-publicized attempts since 2006 to purge key ministries of officials with militia ties, including the Ministry of Interior, many Iraqis doubt both its sincerity and its success. Most disturbingly, Human Rights Watch heard accounts of police complicity in abuse -- ranging from harassing "effeminate" men at checkpoints, to possible abduction and extrajudicial killing. As the targeting has taken place, the Iraqi government has refused to call it out. The report points out, "Iraq's leaders must be defenders of all its people. The Iraqi state must desist from silence, and fully and immediately investigate the murder and torture of people targeted because they do not correspond to norms of 'masculinity,' or are suspected of homosexual conduct." Following the murders, the police look the other way. The murders are not punished, the killings are not investigated: "The brutality of the killings, the proliferation of mutilated corpses discarded in the trash, not only conveys the power of the killers and dispensability of the victims, but makes the dead a savage example. Bodies castrated, broken, tortured -- becomes billboards, on which punishment is less imposed than inscribed." The report makes recommendations for many bodies but here are the recommendations for the Iraqi government: • Investigate all reports of militia or other violence against people targeted because they do not correspond to norms of "masculinity," or are suspected of homosexual conduct, and appropriately punish those found responsible; • Publicly and expressly condemn all such violence; • Investigate whether ties continue between the Ministry of Interior and militias that have operated in the past as quasi-independent security forces under the Ministry's protection, including the Mahdi Army; • Investigate all claims of abuse by police or security forces, including abuses against people because they do not correspond to norms of "masculinity," or are suspected of homosexual conduct, and appropriately punish those found responsible; • Investigate and prosecute all Ministry of Interior officials involved in death squad killings or other unlawful acts, including torture, assault, and extortion; • Properly vet and train all police, security forces, and criminal justice officials, ensuring that this entails training in human rights inclusive of issues of sexual orientation and gender expression and identity, and establish effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms;• Take all appropriate measures to end torture, disappearances, summary killings, and other abuses, including abuses based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity; • Repeal article 128 of the Criminal Code, which identifies "The commission of an offence with honorable motives" as a "mitigating excuse"; • Examine vague articles of the Criminal Code, including paragraphs 401, 402, 501, 502, and 200(2), that could justify arbitrary arrest or harassment of people due to their sexual orientation or gender expression and identity, or could be used to prevent civil society from addressing unpopular or stigmatized issues; repeal or modify them if necessary, or otherwise ensure that they are not applied in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner contrary to international human rights law; • Create and support an independent National Human Rights Commission; • Support the development of domestic independent human rights non-governmentalorganizations with the capacity to monitor the full range of human rights violations, and ensure that they can operate without state harassment or interference; • Train all criminal-justice authorities in effective responses to gender-based violence against women and men; • Promote gender equality by embodying in legislation explicit guarantees for women's equal rights to marriage, within marriage, at the dissolution of marriage, and in inheritance.A large number of the LGBT community is fleeing or has fled Iraq and HRW calls on foreign governments to assist with this segment of the Iraqi refugee population. They note Jordan, Turkey and Syria -- three countries that house the majority of Iraq's external refugees -- are not countries where LGBTs are likely to feel welcomed.
The LGBT community is among the many communities targeted in 'liberated' Iraq today. The press is another target. Friday they demonstrated and that day's snapshot included a link to BBC video footage of the demonstration which somehow became "nearly 100 Iraqi journalists, news media workers and their supporters" when Sam Dagher showed up with a 'report' in Saturday's New York Times. Yesterday Adam Ashton (McClatchy's Kansas City Star) did a better job -- he notes around 200, as opposed to the Times' less than 100 who protested Friday -- but where's the draft law in his article? Not in his article. He does note: "Journalists' fears have been inflamed this summer by a decision from the Iraqi Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Interior requiring publishers to get their permission before printing books and by an Aug. 7 speech at a prominent Shiite mosque where an imam and lawmaker denounced a journalist's work, triggering fears for the writer's safety." (Here's a link to Ashton's story at McClatchy.) NPR's Deborah Amos (All Things Considered) manages to address the topic (and put the boys to shame):Deborah Amos: The demonstrators chose a place in central Baghdad that sends an unmistakable message: Al-Mutanabi Street -- a literary center for generations is lined with book shops as well as an outdoor market that does a lively trade in racy romance novels and political magazines. Here book sellers joined journalists and authors for a rousing protest. Over the past few months, the government has been quietly proceeding on laws to register websites and ban certain books. But opponents say it's a first step to limit freedom of expression. Emad al-Khafaji: I am afraid of the return of the censorship. Deborah Amos: Iraqi journalist, Emad al-Khafaji. Emad al-Khafaji: It's not enough to say, "For national security, I cannot accept this book or that book." No, this thing will remind us of Saddam era. Deborah Amos: When Saddam's era was swept away after the US-led invasion, new media outlets came rushing in. Even the poorest neighborhoods sprouted rooftop satellite dishes. For the first time, Iraqis could feast on Lebanese music videos and Turkish soap operas. They soon discovered website porn and online gambling but in this media revolution more dangerous ideas appeared promoting hatred and sectarian violence. The prime minister's proposed law would prohibit websites that deal with terrorism but also drugs, gambling, negative comments about Islam and pornography. Hanna Edward, a human rights actvist, says these vague categories are aimed at stifling Iraq's diversity. Hanna Edward: This really hinders our democracy, diversity of expression, diversity of opinions. Without it, I fear that we are going again to some dictatorship. Deborah Amos: Iraq's National Library and Archives has already been a target for government censors. Saad Eskander, the executive director, tells the story in his office filled with books. He's rescued old texts, hidden in basements and personal libraries, written in Hebrew from the day when Iraq had the largest Jewish community in the region. He's also rescued books written by Saddam Hussein. The new censors wanted those books gone. Saad Eskander: They say we have no right even they are written in a way that not acceptable to us but they are an Iraqi [no idea on the word]. Deborah Amos: A part of Iraq's heritage's Eskander says, he won that fight for now. Saad Eskander: It reflect old mentality its part of our historical memory and should be read and studied and analyzed in order to prevent the emergence of such dictatorship and brutality in our society. Deborah Amos: Which is why he says he will stand against the prime minister's proposed censorship law.
At the end of last week, Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported on the lack of electricity in Baghdad, how graffiti can be found proclaiming "Electricity is dead. Pray for its soul" and noting, "Electricity long has been a benchmark for reconstruction success in Iraq. Even as American troops have withdrawn from Iraqi cities and there's talk of a faster U.S. pullout from the country, however, electricity remains elusive for millions of Baghdad residents." Hammoudi notes the benchmarks. No one seems to remember them. The White House proposed them. They were supposed to be the way 'success' could be measured. Congress was all for them. Nouri al-Maliki signed off on them. That was 2007. By 2008, movement on any benchmark would be hailed as 'success!' That's all you needed, movement. Wasn't movement 'achievement'? Weren't they the same thing. As the 'results' demonstrate in 2009, no. They weren't the same thing. And by 2009, they're all but forgotten even though, generally, when two parties sign off on something, what you have is a binding contract.
Staying with benchmarks, in 2005, Iraq created a Constitution and ratified it. The Constitution held that a census would be held in Kirkuk and a referendum held there to determine the will of the residents -- did they want to be part of the central government out of Baghdad or part of the Kurdistan Regional Government? The area was historically targeted by Saddam Hussein who moved Arabs in and forced Kurds out. It is a disputed territory. As 2006 came to a close, the Bush White House began talking "benchmarks" by which "success" in Iraq could be measured. They proposed a set of benchmarks to Congress and to Nouri al-Maliki which both signed off on. The benchmarks included resolving the Kirkuk issue. The referendum has never taken place. Repeatedly, Nouri manipulates bodies such as the United Nations which then whine that the Kurds need to wait -- as if this wasn't agreed to both in the Consitution and in the benchmarks. Provincial elections took place in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces back in January and in three of the KRG's provinces in July. The missing one? Kirkuk. Nouri announced that a census would finally take place and that the entire country would vote in January elections in 2010 (kicked back from December 2009). Now BBC reports that Iraq's "has postponed indefinitely plans to hold its first nationswide census in 22 years". AFP adds that politicians (Arab and Turkmen) have declared that they will block the census and that they will work to overturn Article 140 of the Constitution. They quote Kurdish politician Sherzad Adil stating, "Article 140 is constitutional and the Iraqi government is obliged to implement it. The delay in implementing it is the fault fo the governments that followed the former regime and we hope the problems will be solved before the next (general) election." Aseel Kami and Michael Christie (Reuters) remind, "The census would have shed light on the actual ethnic composition of those areas. Many Arab and Turkmen leaders in Kirkuk opposed the survey there, and have also opposed holding a referendum on the city's fate."
And on the topic of northern Iraq, this morning Ernesto London (Washington Post) reported online that the top US commander in Iraq, Gen Ray Odierno, states US forces may be position "along disputed areas" and that Nouri's thrilled with the idea and quotes Odierno saying, "I think they all just feel more comfortable if we're there."
As Third noted yesterday, there were 122 reported deaths in Iraq last week and 414 reported wounded ("Last Sunday found the press reporting 6 deaths and 12 people injured. Monday saw 61 deaths reported and 252 injuries. Tuesday saw 11 dead and 57 wounded. Wednesday's numbers were 11 dead and 21 injured. Thursday 25 lives were claimed and 51 people were wounded. Friday there were 2 reported deaths and 6 reported injured. Saturday saw 6 dead and 15 injured.") Yesterday saw 13 reported dead and 41 reported injured. Violence continued today.
AFP reports a car bombing outside Taji which claimed 5 lives and left thirty-eight people injured according to "local police Lieutenant Sarmed Sami." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing which claimed 2 lives and left eleven people (nine are police) injured. Dropping back to yesterday, Reuters notes a Kirkuk roadside bombing which injured six police officers.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Mosul checkpoint was attacked and 2 police officers were killed with a civilian wounded and 1 "off-duty" police officer was shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to Sunday, 1 civilian was shot dead in Mosul. Reuters notes a Sunday night attack on a checkpoint in Mussayab in which 1 Sahwa was killed and three more were injured, a drive-by shooting in Mussayab Sunday night in which a Sahwa leader was shot dead and a Mosul shop break-in Sunday night in which the owner was shot dead. Note that Reuters' Sunday violence included under "Bombings" and "Shootings" today was not reported yesterday and not included as part of Sunday's count. It will be counted at this site as part of Monday's count. (And, yes, we will keep a running count because the press seems unable/unwilling to do so.)
Reuters notes the Iraqi government announced today they'd found 10 corpses in the last two weeks in Baghdad. Hope those weren't Sunni corpses -- it would destroy the New York Times' p.r. efforts. (As noted August 12th, "Mass graves turn up in a month is he going to retract? Hell no, they never do.")
Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal are three American citizens who visited northern Iraq and allegedly went hiking and allegedly crossed over into Iranian territory. Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement which noted, "Regarding the three American hikers, Joshua Fattal, Shane Bauer, and Sarah Shourd, who were detained by Iranian authorities on July 31, we once again call on the Iranian government to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention by granting consular access and releasing these three young Americans without further delay." They are being held by the Iranian government and, last week, they were moved to Tehran. Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat (Telegraph of London) report that Iraqi tribal leader Farhad Lohoni is stating that eye witnesses (his family members) saw the Americans seized by Iranians who were in Iraqi territory and the Iranians were allegedly part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Meanwhile Rahmat al-Salaam (Asharq Alawsat) reports that the governments of Iraq and Iran met "to discuss border problems and implementation of the Algiers Agreement." Kareem Abedzair (Azzaman) reports on the meeting as well and notes promises on both sides to create more "border controls."
Saturday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement on Ken Bacon, "The United States and the world lost a great humanitarian leader with the passing today of Ken Bacon, President of Refugees International. Most Americans remember Ken as the unflappable civilian voice of the Department of Defense, where he served with distinction as spokesperson for many years. But for millions of the world's most vulnerable people -- refugees and other victims of conflict -- Ken was an invaluable source of hope, inspiration and support. From Centeral Africa to South Asia to the Americas, Ken shone the spotlight on the causes of humanitarian suffering, and served as an impassioned yet reasoned advocate for the principles of humanitarian protection and assistance. We will miss Ken, but we will be inspired by the contributions he has made and the example he has set." Refugees International notes he was 64-years-old and "died . . . [Saturday] morning from an agressive melanoma that spread into his brain." They also note:
In 2006, Mr. Bacon pushed Refugees International to investigate the plight of Iraqi refugees at a time when no one was willing to acknowledge or speak out about this matter. Drawing on the findings of Refugees International's field research teams, Mr. Bacon was a leader in pushing the U.S. government and the UN to recognize the world's fastest growing refugee crisis at that time. His advocacy with senior administration officials and key members of Congress, such as Senator Edward Kennedy, was instrumental in achieving extensive press coverage and policy discussions on Iraqi displacement, the creation of a State Department task force on the problem, a sharp increase in international assistance for displaced Iraqis, and greater numbers of Iraqis are being resettled in this country.
For approximately 25 years, worked for the Wall St. Journal, first as a correspondent and then as an editor. Stephen Miller (Wall St. Journal) explains, "Mr. Bacon lived simply in Washington, riding a bicycle to work as a reporter, and walking to work as a Pentagon spokesman. He was legendarily frugal with the air conditioning in his family's townhouse in D.C.'s scorching summers. In 1994, he responded to incoming Secretary of Defense [William J.] Perry's summons to the Pentagon, where issues like U.S. involvement in Bosnia and Haiti dominated the agenda. As a former reporter, he mixed well with the Washington press corps and was retained by the subsequent defense secretary, William S. Cohen." Matt Schudel (Washington Post) adds, "Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Darcy Wheeler Bacon of Washington and Block Island; two daughters, Katharine Bacon of Brookline, Mass., and Sarah Bacon of Brooklyn, N.Y.; his father, Theodore S. Bacon of Peterborough, N.H.; a brother; and two grandchildren." The family is asking that those who wish to note the passing make a donation to Refugees International instead of sending flowers.
And finally, we'll note this from Sherwood Ross' "America's Warfare State" (Information Clearing House):
"On my last day in Iraq," veteran McClatchy News correspondent Leila Fadel wrote August 9th, "as on my first day in Iraq, I couldn't see what the United States and its allies had accomplished. ... I couldn't understand what thousands of American soldiers had died for and why hundreds of thousands of Iraqis had been killed." Quite a few oil company CEO's and "defense" industry executives, however, do have a pretty good idea of why the war Fadel deplored is being fought. As Michael Cherkasky, president of Kroll Inc., said a year after the Iraq invasion boosted his security firm's profits 231 percent: "It's the Gold Rush." What follows is a brief look at some of the outfits that cashed in, and at the multitudes that got took. "Defense Earnings Continue to Soar," Renae Merle wrote in The Washington Post on July 30, 2007. "Several of Washington's largest defense contractors said last week that they continue to benefit from a boom in spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan..." Merle added, "Profit reports from Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin showed particularly strong results in operations in the region." More recently, Boeing's second-quarter earnings this year rose 17 percent, Associated Press reported, in part because of what AP called "robust defense sales." But war, it turns out, is not only unhealthy for human beings, it is not uniformly good for the economy. Many sectors suffer, including non-defense employment, as a war can destroy more jobs than it creates. While the makers of warplanes may be flying high, these are "Tough Times For Commercial Aerospace," Business Week reported July 13th. "The sector is contending with the deepening global recession, declining air traffic, capacity cuts by airlines, and reduced availability of financing for aircraft purchases."
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